Solar boat progress

Looking from entry gate in coaming towards bow

I’m now back at Mt Tamborine to finish the electrical installation.  I know, I know!  Its taking longer than expected to complete this boat.  On the back of an envelope I estimated another 16 days to finish the electrical work and get her launched.  Allowing for weekends and other projects being shoe-horned in it really means about a month till she’s done.

Last trip saw the installation of the solar panels on the canopy.

Lithium batteries used to weigh down the panels for gluing

The stainless steel backed Solara panels are glued down using flexible adhesive. The panels can be flexed a little and they easily curve to the shape of the canopy. The cable from each solar panel is chased down into the canopy itself to give a clean surface. The panels are a closed cell foam called Multi-panel and the foaming glue from selleys is more or less the same stuff and so I used that to fill the slots after the cable in laid in place. It foams up and fills the gaps nicely.

Foaming glue and toothpicks holding the cable in place

You can see in the photos that I used tooth picks to hold the cable in place while the foaming glue sets. After setting it can be trimmed off with a blade and sanded back to give an even surface.

I love the creepie-crawlies that appeared on board after I trimmed the cable glue off…

creepie-crawlies on the bow

I’ve been enjoying helping out with building this boat and in the next few weeks finishing the electrical details.  In working beside Derek I’ve come to appreciate his attention to detail and the way he has combined traditional boat building skills with modern materials. The photo shows the paradox of modern materials being shaped by centuries old wood-working tool—the draw file. (Which, by the way, is an essential tool for hand made cricket bats).

Tranditional drawknife meets modern closed cell foam

This mix of new and old, traditional and modern is reflected in many aspects of the Sienna design. The blend of a traditional easily driven hull, evolved from centuries of fishing boat use, is matched with a state of the art electric motor to maximise efficiency. Contemporary marine solar panels are mounted on a canopy that is strengthened using timber knees carefully chosen so the grain matches the lines of force, just as it has been done by generations of wooden boat builders.

Check out the fuel guage to the left of ships wheel

In the cockpit there’s a traditional ship’s wheel as you see here in the photo and we’ll also be using a GPS chart plotter, which will be sited discretely to the side. You might notice the retro fuel gauge in the dashboard (of cedar of course) and this will be linked to to show remaining battery capacity. To the right is the Torqeedo throttle nicely trimmed with a timber handle.

In the next few days I’ll finish the battery boxes so that they provide a waterproof container for the lithium cells. Then they can be linked into the charging system and we can begin to charge them from the sun as the first stage of proving the system.

Its been great fun building her but I’m really looking forward to getting her on the water. I’ll keep you updated…

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